Walt Disney Press Photo (1966)


This press photo from November 22, 1966, appeared in The Morning Call with the news that Walt Disney had undergone surgery to remove part of his left lung.

Disney had initially entered the hospital on November 2, for what was apparently treatment for an old polo injury. A medical bulletin released by the studio, a few weeks later, however, revealed that “during the preliminary examination, a lesion was discovered…and a tumor was found to have caused an abscess which, in the opinion of doctors, required a pneumonectomy.” The surgery took place the day before the following press release, which can be seen paired with the photo:

BURBANK, Calif., Nov. 22 – WALT DISNEY HAS LUNG REMOVED – Famed movie maker Walt Disney (above) has had part of his left lung removed by surgery, his studio said today. A spokesman said a tumor was found, but did not say whether there was a malignancy. Disney is 64.

Following the surgery, Disney would be released and return for a post-operative checkup on his sixty-fifth birthday (1966). This time, however, he would never leave, passing away ten days later at 9:35 a.m. on the morning of December 15, 1966, in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Burbank.

This particular press photo has been marked and annotated in various places on both sides by employees of The Morning Call, a newspaper based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is among the nation’s top-one-hundred publications, in terms of circulation.

This original black-and-white press photo and release mark the fateful surgery and rapid decline in health that culminated with the death of the world’s foremost entertainment magnate.


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